If you’re a poet or writer in any other form or genre, you’ve probably witnessed many modern, uncivilized behaviors from fellow students, writers and academic colleagues—their public relations gestures, their catty reviews and essays, and their often uncivil career moves. Like actors, visual artists and politicians, cut-throat pirate maneuverings have become the new normal. It’s what occurs whenever there are more people practicing an art than any particular economy can support.
The difference with writers is their ability to develop highly conceptualized, rationalizations in order to prove their worth and ideals. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has reached a critical mass in meaningless attempts to pull focus in a society obsessed with the show-biz spotlight.
Writing in the Age of Narcissism traces how the narcissism epidemic affects writers, including our gestures of post-modernism and irony, and proposes an alternative way to be a more positive writer, critic and reader.
Writing in the Age of Narcissism
"The influence of narcissism on today's pop culture has warped the way people interact. The author's commentary was smart and relevant. It caused me to think about the way I treat other people. Even as I criticize vapid, self-aware narcissism, I'm sure I still act that way out of a desire for validation. Like they say, 'everybody wants to be special.' If I was a college professor, I'd have my students read this book. It provides a good lesson in humility." — Joshua Ebert on Smashwords
Narcissism in Writing and Art
In this eBook, I quote many writers as I try to grapple between the types of self-interest a writers needs to be effective versus the types of self-interest that are ultimately destructive to writers and their communities. I also discuss conceptual experimentation, formalism and the lyric as strategies that can enable narcissism.
Quotes on Narcissism
Here are some extra quotes we can toss into the soup:
- Selfie by Will Storr
- "In America, we begin to ask who will still colonize the "I," that island of cannibals, of separations, of endings and be-alls, of my turn, of better-than-you, of privilege and sweat-of-the-brow rectitude, of I own this and you own that, homeland of the civilized heartbreak where, if you leave, I shall get along anyway, I shall do perfectly well without you. There are others and others and you will not be one of them, where if your coat were downing, I would not save it." Octavio Paz
“I’ve always been drawn to science, especially neuroscience. I feel that poets look at the world so differently because of something to do with the way their brains are wired." Bianca Stone, Poets & Writers, January/February 2015
In his essay "Casting Stones" on the Mary Kay Letourneau story called Charles D’Ambrosio talks about the “reflective rush to judge” and “threadbare or disingenuous language which failed to allow for the possibility that [the case] was both simpler and more complex than they were prepared to understand or admit...My felling was, first you sympathize, then you judge – that’s a complex human response. You sympathize first, and until that happens, you don’t understand anything.” Quoted in Poets & Writers, November/December 2014
“Postmodernism is the opiate of the self-conscious.” - Baron Wormser, "Chinatown"
"Bibles written out by hand, there was not only no punctuation but also no space between the words, because of the fear called horror vacui, where Satan flies in and occupies any empty space, even the space between words. One monk, a radical, put a small mark on a page, to slow down the reading perhaps, and this eventually grew into what we call punctuation. So at that moment a comma becomes an extreme act." - Nick Flynn, "In Between Words: A Conversation on the Extreme," American Poetry Review, November/December, 2014
"Confession, post-confession, anti-confession--it all leads back to a lyric impulse, poetry as an utterance from some inner realm that presses up against outer realities." - Nick Flynn, "In Between Words: A Conversation on the Extreme," American Poetry Review, November/December, 2014
"Burning your way to center is the lonliest fire of all. You’ll know you have arrived when nothing else will burn." Mark Nepo
"There’s no need to seek the truth--just put a stop to your opinions." -- Seng -Ts’an
- "...the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self." -- David Foster Wallace, 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address.
- "What the ironist truly fosters is a vacuum of absolute silence in which neither he nor anyone else can state his beliefs, a double negative that does not yield a positive. Their sense of negation ends with unspoken fears and unasked questions in the face of a barren landscape: 'Unmentioned by either man was how in heaven's name either man expected to get up or down from the mountainside's shelf in the dark of the U.S. desert's night' [from Infinite Jest]." -- Teddy Wayne, "Addiction to Itself: Self-Consciousness in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
- "...we can see how metafiction, in attempting to offer itself as relief from the falseness of fiction, is malignantly addictive in its negotiations with authenticity, as [Paul] de Man points out: 'To know inauthenticity is not the same as to be authentic.' -- Teddy Wayne, "Addiction to Itself: Self-Consciousness in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
Quotes on Sincerity
"A Task" by Czeslaw Milosz
In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life
Only if I brought myself to make a public confession
Revealing a sham, my own and of my epoch:
We were permitted to shriek in the tongue of dwarfs and demons
But pure and generous words were forbidden
Under so stiff a penalty that whoever dared to pronounce one
Considered himself as a lost man.
- The Space Between Self Esteem and Self Compassion: Kristin Neff at TEDx Centennial Park Women
Yayoi Kusama's Narcissism Garden
- Yayoi Kusama Reflects Back Our Narcissism at Victoria Miro
- Obsession, Fantasy and Outrage: The Art of Yayoi Kusama
- An Artist for the Instagram Age: Is Yayoi Kusama’s new participatory-art exhibit about seeking profound experiences—or posting selfies?
"Kasuma's mirrored investigations into existentialism and infinity have become theaters of infinite narcissism."
- Narcissism images
"The profound narcissistic undertone however has been ironically amplified not only by the artist’s pervasive ostentation, but also by the viewership in the age of Internet. Seduced by his/her own reflective images on the convex surfaces, viewers snap photographs with a smart phone and instantly upload them to social media for the rest of the world to see. The urge to capture and disseminate the moment one’s own image coalesces onto a privileged object in a privileged institution seems to motivate the obsession with the self. To further accentuate the effect of gazing at one’s multiple selves, many installations now take place on the water where the original Narcissus from the Greek mythology fell in love with his own reflection and eventually drowned." (Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden by Danielle Shang)